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Schools not adopting IT fast enough, says Becta

Antony Savvas

Schools need to speed up their adoption of technology, says schools IT watchdog Becta.

Although schools have made noticeable progress investing in IT systems and hardware, they are still not using technology to its full potential, says an annual survey by Becta.

Stephen Crowne, chief executive of Becta, said, "It is clear from this survey that IT is now firmly on the agenda, and schools fully recognise its importance. However, we now need to make that next step and ensure that schools are using the technology available in an interactive and engaging manner.

"Technology can play a crucial role in creating a world class education system for learners. We are seeing some schools use technology to engage more regularly and more effectively with parents, but we need to see all schools take advantage of the opportunities technology can provide."

The survey findings suggest schools should be encouraged to use technology in a more sophisticated way to enable better communication between parents and schools.

A third of primary schools and just under half of secondary schools surveyed say that using technology to communicate with parents is a high priority.

Becta's "Harnessing Technology Schools Survey" found that despite an increase of 14% in the use of learning platforms at secondary schools, only 11% of those surveyed use their learning platforms for Web 2.0 related activities, such as blogging and podcasting, at least once a term.

Crowne said, "We need to further support and encourage teachers to use technology in more engaging ways. A major concern raised by teachers was the fact that many pupils are still unable to access the internet when at home.

"We have taken steps to address this in an effort to bridge the 'digital divide' and close the gap between those who have and those who do not, bringing the full benefit of IT to every child."

The average number of interactive whiteboards in schools has risen considerably since last year. Secondary schools now have 38 interactive whiteboards, compared to 22 in 2007.

Computer to pupil ratio has also improved over the last year, with 4.3 pupils for every desktop computer in secondary schools.

Of the teachers surveyed, three-fifths confirmed that pupils enjoy lessons more if they use IT. Most of the teachers surveyed were positive about the benefits and the potential contribution of new technologies to learning. However, despite realising the potential benefits, most teachers were slow to adopt the use of new technologies.

A recent report by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) found that provision for learning platforms in schools has increased significantly since last year. However, this BESA report also found that the full value of learning platforms is yet to be realised by schools.


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